Tag Archives: Home and Garden

A change for a change?

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I had all sorts of  things I wanted to do on Saturday (22nd) but my day started  little later than I had planned, nevertheless I was downstairs before nine and had eaten breakfast by then too. The plan was to do more work in the lounge but it was such a lovely sunny day I decided not to spend too long working. I began by finishing applying a coat of gloss paint to the remainder of the picture rail, the door frame and the door. I decided not to paint the skirting boards or the fire surround (mantlepiece) for doing that would keep me working all morning and possibly into the afternoon. I wasn’t prepared to do that. Even so I spent almost two hours doing what I did then stopped to do a little work in the garden. Usually when I say garden it is invariably the rear garden as I spend less time working in the front garden which needs less maintenance. Monday was going to be collection day for the ‘green’ waste so I had to empty out the large bag which held the remaining bluebells and other plants which couldn’t be collected the previous time. There were other waste items to dispose of too, some large shrub root balls and leaves. I couldn’t place all the root balls in the bins as there wouldn’t be enough space for them this time around. They will go next time. I needed to leave enough space in one of the bins to accommodate the grass cuttings I was about to produce, yes, it was time to cut the lawn once more. So I mowed the lawn and pulled the now filled bins into the front garden ready to put out in the street on Sunday evening. Time for lunch but for a change I went to the pub. It isn’t often I eat at the pub on a Saturday as I am usually too busy working. After a change of clothes I walked to the pub in the lovely sunshine. I had expected the place to be full but it wasn’t so I didn’t have to wait long to be served. As usual the girls greeted me by name (they do that for most of the regular customers) and made me feel welcome. I seem to get special treatment from one or two of them who like to chat with me. Anyway it was a pleasant hour or two and I walked back home. I hung the washing on the lines in the cellar having forgotten I had placed it in the machine earlier. I could have hung it outside but I often don’t do that. Left to dry in the cellar means I can casually take it down when it suits and don’t have to worry about the weather. I made a coffee and sat out in the sun on the patio but after a while I’d had enough of that. I remembered that I needed to clear out the gutter on the rear of the garage roof overlooking the Plot and at the same time adjust the set time on the small floodlight nearby as it wasn’t remaining on long enough when triggered. Having collected the ladder and tools I did those two small jobs then I decided to get the hose out and water the garden as we hadn’t had much rain for a while. Then I noticed a bluebell growing behind one of the small plants in the Mound. Out came the tools and kneeling stool and I began to dig it out. I really had to dig deep and in the process dug out quite a few bulbs. Did I mention that I consider bluebells to be a weed, yes, nice weeds but still weeds? Time to go indoors for another coffee and watch the FA cup semi-final game (soccer). Do I ever rest?

Shirley Anne

Household chores

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A distraction from chores

A distraction from chores (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I couldn’t get to sleep on Friday night until way after two o’clock despite my nodding off in front of the television before I set off to bed. Maybe the ‘cat naps’ had been enough to keep me awake but I did eventually fall asleep. That meant I ended up sleeping in until nine-thirty and missing breakfast. When I finally got downstairs and carrying laundry I put it into the washing machine then went for a walk. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t miss not having breakfast. It was another pleasant day, still cloudy but reasonably warm with no wind whatsoever. Soon I was on my way back home to do some household chores, taking out the waste, cleaning the bins, hanging up the washing, vacuuming the carpets, you know, all the mundane stuff in life that has to be done. Once upon a time I didn’t much like doing household chores but in more recent times I find I actually enjoy it! Am I crazy or what? Not really, after all it is work and something therefore I enjoy. When I was very young I was the only one among my siblings who like helping out at home. I would prepare meals, wash and scrub the floors and other things most children shy away from. I won’t say that my brothers and sisters didn’t help out but from what I can remember I was the one who encouraged them to help. That was probably because I was the eldest. They remember me as ‘bossy boots’ and I probably was but I got hings done. So was my Saturday all chores and no rest? No, I am not that crazy! I get restless though and soon find myself looking for things to do but the problem with household chores is that they never seem to end, by the time you think you’ve done everything you have come full circle and have to begin again. When I finally retire from my electrical work (perhaps) I know there will be plenty of work to do around and inside the house to keep me occupied………………but that is life isn’t it?

Shirley Anne

Autumn eh?

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English: Door furniture, old and new The hinge...

Door furniture, old and new The hinge and lock say craftsman, the padlock, B&Q. Detail on the old door in a church outbuilding. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a lovely day Sunday was, warm, dry and sunny practically all day long. There was only the slightest of a breeze, more a zephyr  most of the time. I spent quite a few hours outside enjoying it. The only part of the garden that was damp was the grass and that only because of dew. The artificial grass on the patio was naturally also damp too. Almost two weeks ago saw the Equinox marking the beginning of  Autumn but Autumn proper seemed far off on Sunday. It felt more like Summer. The week ahead looked promising too but I knew at this time of year it can suddenly turned wet, windy and cold. I still had some work to do outdoors if the weather could remain dry for me to do it. I had three small areas around the paving slabs I had laid on the Plot which needed filling in with a fine concrete mix and perhaps do some cosmetic work around the base of the new lamp-post using natural stones. There was also one other job I might be able to do sometime during the week but that would need the tower erecting at the front of the building. I had hinted at the possibility of doing this unusual job many months ago but didn’t get around to doing it. On Friday I had paid a visit to a local establishment which services and sells lawnmowers. It is noted for the lawnmower museum they have  there ( http://www.lawnmowerworld.co.uk/gallery.php?location=0 ) but apart from their lawnmower business they are also master locksmiths. Part of their shop is dedicated to that trade and they sell all kinds of things to do with locks and door furniture. They also program vehicle keys and lock systems which is why I was there. Recently I’d had a replacement control unit fitted around the steering column of my van and later it was discovered that the key no longer controlled the automatic door locking system though it still works manually. Neither the auto electrician nor the locksmith could resolve the problem which still exists. I can live with operating it manually and I will leave it that way unless I come across a solution. Anyway whilst at the store waiting to see if the locksmith could set things right I noticed that they also sold natural stone (slate) plaques with signage. I made inquiries regarding cost to have one made to size for my needs. It would cost £150 I was told so I agreed to have one made. They told me it would be ready to collect a couple of days hence, perhaps Monday. Now I know you will be wondering what the plaque was for and what was to be written on it. It will read…’Hassle Castle…..1877′ and it is to be fixed to the wall at the front of the house at high level. The house was built in 1877. I mentioned the purchase to my neighbour who thinks the idea highly amusing but liked it. I think the same. I may be able to attach a picture before this is scheduled to be posted but if not I will post one later.

Shirley Anne

Waiting for the rain

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Up early again on Wednesday to do more work on the Plot. Wednesday was an ideal day for working outdoors being as it was slightly cooler than of late. After an early breakfast I was outside at a little after eight o’clock and was soon working. I didn’t have to set up the mixer so I was pretty much able to get straight to work. My main object for the day was to finish building the walled enclosure, its inner walls. I managed to do that but I may take the structure up one more level of bricks as I have discovered I have sixty-three bricks remaining and to lay another course will take forty-eight bricks. As it stands (Wednesday) there are seven courses of bricks. Of course I will be topping the walls with natural stone in keeping with the patio brickwork. In this picture the work has been temporarily covered because rain was forecast for Thursday and I wanted the walls to remain dry.Plot 12    Now then, I had finished with mixing mortar for the day as it was approaching lunchtime and I wasn’t prepared to carry on working into the afternoon. Rather than do nothing I chose to remove part of the wall alongside the path and dig out the soil behind it as you can see in the bottom right of the picture. I then laid some old bricks and rubble as a base for some concrete upon which I will lay a paving slab later. Eventually there will be three steps to match those I constructed a couple of years ago shown on the left in the picture. The plastic sheet standing there covers what is left of the four hundred bricks I had delivered for the work. There are sixty-three of them as I mentioned. Before I can fill the structure with soil I have to ‘point’ the internal walls, that is fill in all the gaps in the joints. Later I will have to do the same with the outer surfaces of the construction. I had my lunch and then spent a few minutes on the patio but was disturbed by a phone call from the auto-electrician who had been repairing the fault of my van’s lighting switches. I walked to their workshop about a mile away and collected the van. The guy had to replace the whole mechanism which slides over the steering column and to which the control stalks are fitted. The cost for the replacement and fitting it? £246! I knew it wouldn’t be cheap but I didn’t expect it to be quite as expensive. I’m going to need a couple more electrical jobs to offset the outlay. Fortunately the work is still coming in.

Shirley Anne

Another day off

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I spend more time at home these days and far less at my electrical business but I am almost never idle when at home. It is about that time when we can switch off the central heating system, though if it were only myself to consider it would have been switched off long ago. E feels the cold more than I do so it had to stay on just that little bit longer. The reason I want it off is so I can work on the system changing radiator valves, fitting a towel rail in the wet room and carrying out an alteration to pipes in the airing cupboard in the bathroom. All the jobs are individually simple and not time-consuming though it will take time to do them all. Before that work was undertaken I intended to get the artificial lawn laid on the patio. On Wednesday morning at around eight o’clock the front door bells sounded, it was the guys delivering the artificial turf. I wasn’t dressed and there was no way I would be answering the door. E however doesn’t bother about such things and she answered the door in her dressing gown. After breakfast I called the guy who would be fitting it just to let him know it was here. He called later to look at it as he has to source a suitable adhesive. At the time of writing he hasn’t set a date for doing it though he did say he might do it soon whilst the weather is good. Meanwhile I sprinkled some soda and water over the patio floor where moss had spread itself thinly in one part in order to kill it off. Later I was able to brush most of it away but had to resort to getting on my hands and knees with a steel wire brush to remove the stubborn bits. I also used a gas torch to burn some of it but finally it was clean and ready for the adhesive. I did some work around one of the rainwater grids which took some time. Water drains 006Basically I removed the plastic cover and set in place an open metal grating instead. Earlier in the year I had heavily pruned back the two main apple trees and had temporarily stowed away the branches. E and I got the wood chipping machine out and set it up to chip the branches. It is the yellow and black machine in this picture below. Nearby stands an old ‘Aqua Vac’ in red and grey which we had stored up in a small attic space at the top of the house. It is damaged but usable and though it can now only be used for vacuuming up water it may come in handy for vacuuming rainwater off the artificial turf when it is laid. Summer showers happen don’t they? The picture also shows the petrol mower in yellow, an electric mower in turquoise behind it, a cement mixer in blue, a wheelbarrow and hidden behind them another electric mower and strimmer. The artificial turf lies rolled up in the foreground waiting to be fitted.G 1Anyway E had to go out later and I took over chipping up the branches. We got quite a lot of wood chippings which we bagged for use in the garden. Amongst some of the other things we did was to take out the carpet and mattress from the garage ready for collection the next day by the council waste disposal team. We were both very tired having spent many hours working throughout the day.

Shirley Anne

Quickest carpet buy

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Swatches of carpet of tufted construction

Swatches of carpet of tufted construction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the years we have purchased many carpets but on Saturday we drove off to our local floor covering specialist to purchase a new carpet for the bedroom we have refurbished. They cater for all types of floor coverings and not just carpets though I suspect carpets are their main trade. We took along one of our curtains to be sure of getting a suitable colour match and we were only in the shop a minute when the salesman offered us a sample piece of carpet which met our requirements. It is similar to the colour of the fourth swatch from the left on the top line in the picture shown. Even though I was completely satisfied with the match E wanted to see if there was anything else that might also be suitable. It was a no-brainer, the first one was the right one and we went ahead with the purchase having given the salesman the dimensions of the room. He asked for a deposit but we chose to pay the whole amount up-front. We will have to pay the carpet fitter separately when he comes to fit it. The fitter will arrive this Friday afternoon to lay it. Whilst we were there we made enquiries regarding the price to supply and fit artificial grass on the patio. We will have to take measurements to see what we will need when we decide to have it done, hopefully in the not too distant future. We left the shop a mere twelve minutes after we arrived. E still has to find someone to fit a lining to the curtains though I am sure we could do it ourselves if we set our minds to. It isn’t that difficult and we do possess a sewing machine. Perhaps it is easier to have someone else do it I suppose. I had taken the van out of the garage earlier in the morning to gave it a wash, actually the first of the year believe it or not. As I don’t do many miles it doesn’t get too dirty unless it has been raining, though this time it really did need a clean. I wanted to wash it because the weather forecast had indicated we were in for windy and wet days over the weekend and I might not have had the time later. Saturday morning was supposed to start off that way but it wasn’t until noon before it actually began to rain. After our lunch I received a phone call regarding the faulty television I’d had taken away for repairs. The guy told me it was unrepairable because the parts necessary to repair it were no longer available. The television is more than ten years old, one of the first flat screen televisions generally available then with a 42″ screen. I had an idea it would need replacing and was prepared for that. So with that in mind E and I decided to go and buy a new set and off we went to the retail park. It didn’t take us long, or rather me long to choose the set I wanted. Initially we looked at some 55″ screens but then I saw a few 65″ screens and thought I might buy one of those instead. The lounge it is going in is big enough for a larger screen. I saw one that I liked and it was on offer at a reduced price and as we would be paying more than £1000 there was a further discount of 10%. That clinched the deal though I also opted to buy a three-year no quibble insurance to cover any mechanical or software problems that may ensue. There is only one drawback and that is the set is too wide to fit onto my glass table but I will overcome that problem by buying another piece of toughened glass to sit upon the table. Hopefully the set will arrive this coming Sunday. We left the store and walked a couple of metres into the furniture store next door and within twenty minutes we had left having purchased the bed for the refurbished bedroom. More spends! My flexible friends took care of payment once again. The bed will arrive next Thursday, that is on the 7th. The carpet we purchased earlier will be laid as I said this Friday with any hope. We drove home and the plan was to remain at home until after the Easter weekend with nothing to do but relax. I am not sure I can last that long without having something to do but we’ll see.

Shirley Anne

Everything stops

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Thursday morning and up until early afternoon the weather had been really cold but it felt even colder because of the wind. Finer weather was promised for Friday and the weekend but first there would be rain. Two guys turned up in the morning to continue with the front steps, mainly measuring and cutting the stone slabs which form the steps themselves. About five and a half years ago at a time when we were having extensive repairs and alterations to the house and grounds we had the original steps taken up and natural stone slabs laid instead but since then we have decided to have those steps nearest the front door altered for easier access. The steps in question are those three immediately outside the front doors in this picture taken shortly after their construction. pics 1026This is the work now being carried out along with the rebuilding of part of the rear garden wall. Well the wall is almost complete as of today, Thursday, there being only a couple of things left to do with it. The steps would have been almost completed too except that this afternoon the weather stopped progress, the rains came as we knew they would and it has slowly begun to get warmer. However, there is now nobody here to carry on with the work because the rain prevents it. I am hoping to see their return in the morning but I am not sure if they will. I will be away from home on an electrical job, at least for the morning. We cannot use the front entrance until the work is completed and that means we have to go through the garage to enter through a rear door, not the most convenient way I admit but we have to put up with it for now. Late in the morning we had a visit from the bedroom furniture installers, actually someone to take precise measurements and to schedule the work. We have elected to have the room furniture delivered during the last week in February and sometime during the following week to have it installed. The work we have been told will take three to four days to complete. We now have a month to carry out other work like the electrics and some of the decorating. We are leaving off painting the walls as advised until the furniture is fitted. Now I know more about the furniture’s measurements I can install the new power outlets without fear of putting them in the wrong places. The old ceiling light has been removed and the ubiquitous holder on a flex fitted as a temporary unit until we purchase a more suitable light fitting.

Shirley Anne

Finally there…..

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My best laid plans often do go astray because of weather, other problems, other commitments, other people, many reasons though never because I am lazy. I therefore sometimes get frustrated when I cannot get on with my plans. Such was the case on Tuesday. I was to get the stone slabs cut and then fit them on top of the two small flowerbeds I had finished constructing and filling the day before. The first problem was having to wait for the guys to cut the stone, after all they were doing me a favour so I couldn’t press them. As it turned out I collected them around one o’clock but decided not to do the work then as I wanted to take E out for a meal. Wednesday morning would do just fine. In my previous post my readers will know what happened on Tuesday afternoon with the flagpole so even had I wanted to do the work the time was taken up fixing that problem. I put on my overalls and set about cutting two of the now narrow stone slabs to the right length with my own little grinding machine. I had thought I would have to make four such cuts but I discovered it wasn’t necessary. I placed them on the walls to see where each piece would fit best. I then mixed the mortar by hand and laid them all in place. I put some things over the joints as a temporary measure in case it rained. Rain was forecast throughout the afternoon. E was keen to put in the tree bark chippings but left it until Thursday morning to allow the capping stones to set firmly in place. Here are the results………..

Patio Flowerbed 19

Patio Flowerbed 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I can say the patio flowerbed project is finally complete..Now for the next little project…..

Shirley Anne

Nearly there on part two

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I had a very restless night on Sunday, kept waking up about every two hours but even my sleep periods were quite shallow. I had things on my mind and I guess I wasn’t tired enough having done little over the weekend. It follows that unless I work hard enough I don’t sleep well. I arose feeling almost as tired as when I went to bed, probably more so after all that tossing and turning. I had an appointment to keep at nine o’clock, an electrical job and had plenty of time to get there as it was local. On Saturday E and I were out buying things for the garden project and we had ordered another ton of soil which was to be delivered on Monday morning. I was about to leave the house just after eight o’clock because I had to make a visit to the electrical supplier before going to the job and the guy delivering the soil turned up. He was about to dump the bag in the wrong place so I dashed outside and stopped him. He had placed the previous load of soil in a specific spot to one side and behind the gate as I had requested only a few days before so he ought to have remembered to place the new delivery in the same spot. Had I not caught him before he dropped the load I would have had great difficulty in getting out of the gate with my van. I drove off to work but was back home by ten o’clock.Cup of coffee There was no way I would be moving any soil for a couple of hours as I was feeling quite drained. After an hour and a cup of coffee though I was feeling fit again and ready to go but I decided to eat lunch first. At noon E went out with her sister who wanted her support while she arranged a new contract for her mobile phone service. As soon as she left the house I donned my overalls and set about moving the soil barrow by barrow into the new patio flowerbeds and planting the two Phoenix Canariensis plants in them leaving plenty of surrounding space for E to bed her new flowering plants as we did with the main flowerbed. I had other work to do, empty and refill the compost barrel, a large container which reduces garden waste to form a rich compost. I also made a start in digging out some weeds in one of the front garden flowerbeds which has been sadly neglected for too long. I was able to dump some of the new soil there but there is more work to do there yet which I will probably do while I have the opportunity. E returned home before four o’clock and put the plants in the flowerbeds. I moved the two plant pots that originally housed the two larger Phoenix Canariensis plants that are now in the main flowerbed, in front of the patio and filled them so that E could plant some bulbs in them. I also moved the two redundant pots which held the smaller Phoenix plants I had just put in the two small flowerbeds onto the steps and E put bulbs in them too. At last most of the work on and around the patio was done but at the time of writing this far I have yet to fit the stone capping on the walls and lay some tree bark chippings in and around the plants in the small flowerbeds. I didn’t get to place the stone capping until Wednesday morning.

Shirley Anne

Even so

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English: Clevelode's burglar alarm These fowl ...

Clevelode’s burglar alarm These fowl make a heck of a noise if a stranger appears. The River Severn is just beyond the bushes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite it being very warm these last few days I continued to work either for myself at home or for others though on Thursday I didn’t work at all. It is now Friday as I write this late in the evening and there is now a much welcomed breeze blowing outside. It has become much cooler too. Temperatures reached around 28 or 29 deg C which is in the low to mid eighties on the Fahrenheit scale but the killer has been the high humidity. I had no work scheduled for the day so around nine-thirty after breakfast I decided to prune back the shrubs on the far side of our rear garden which had encroached too far out over the concrete path there. Now I can actually walk the length of the path without dodging and ducking to avoid the branches! A little tidying up of leaves and I was finished in just over an hour. It was beginning to get warmer outside by this time and too much exertion wasn’t advisable and I returned indoors for a while. As I had risen from my bed around six o’clock I’d had an early breakfast so was feeling hungry on the approach to noon and therefore had an early lunch. Soon afterward I decided to mow the lawn and it was hard-going because it had not dried out completely from the previous evening’s heavy rain and in parts it was quite long. It grows faster in the area immediately behind the house which shelters it from the afternoon sun. The far side of the lawn suffers in the heat of a summer’s sun. I had to empty out the cuttings about six times, four times as many as I normally have to and the cuttings taken from behind the house were quite wet. E had left the house whilst I was mowing the lawn and I thought she had gone with her sister who had called to drop off some clothes that needed washing. Her machine is faulty and she is waiting for the replacement to be delivered so E had offered to wash it for her. I went for a walk and thought no more about it. On my return home about forty minutes later E was standing outside our neighbour’s house chatting with her. Evidently they had called me on the phone but I hadn’t heard the phone ringing as it was in my bag and I had been surrounded by the noise of traffic. E hadn’t her house keys when she left the house and in fact she had only gone to chat with our neighbour but hadn’t let me know. I had set the house alarm and it had gone off whilst I was out, When I went into the house I switched off the alarm which by now had stopped anyway and I reset it and checked it out twice to make sure it was working. It worked perfectly so I have no idea why it had triggered when it did. It did indicate that ‘Zone 1′ had a problem when I first went back into the house to reset it so perhaps it was the door switch that had temporarily failed. Zone 1 is the entry door to the house. Maybe we should invest in a living alarm as in the picture! I went into the garden to sit out on the patio for a while, it was too hot to do much else but after a while I took one of the chairs off the patio and moved it into the shade of the house. I sat there with my feet on the cool grass in the shade but after ten minutes my phone rang and someone asked if I could connect a cooker for them. They had just moved into an apartment which happened to lie on the road at the top of our own. I called to do it and was back less than twenty minutes later.

Shirley Anne

Busy Tuesday

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Gardener Gardening

Gardener Gardening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon before I was able to eat anything substantial. I had eaten a half of a small melon for breakfast knowing that I intended to eat out later. Usually I would have eaten porridge with fruit and a fruit drink but sometimes porridge weighs heavily in my tummy and causes reflux whenever I am doing anything strenuous or working hard afterwards. If I miss eating porridge in the morning I might have some later in the day if I’ve a mind to do so. My first job of the day was to install a waterproof power outlet outdoors at an address quite close to home. The lady of the house, a widow, got on very well with me and during my work she was talking about her garden and asking me about mine. I am not a gardener but I do like to take an interest in plants. I asked the lady if she would like to see my garden as my house was not much more than a half-mile away. She liked the idea so when I had finished the job I drove her there and back home later. I had an hour to spare before I could go to my next job for the day anyway. I gave her a mini-tour of the gardens and lower floors of the house so that she could see the things we had been talking about earlier. She knew much about the plants we have as gardening is somewhat of a hobby of hers. I also showed her our wet room and main bathroom as I had told her that we had built the wet room entirely by ourselves and had done most of the work in the bathroom ourselves too. She didn’t want to leave the bathroom, saying it was such a lovely room. I took her back home after a half-hour and then drove back home for a short while before going to my next job. Our eldest son had called to the house with someone from the church and they were offloading two pews for storage in our cellar. He told me he wanted them for future use when he buys a house. I can’t imagine why but hadn’t the time to ask. I left them to it. When I returned home late in the afternoon I had to move them for he had stored them in such a way that they were obstructing access to our electrical and gas supplies and preventing use of the workbench we have down there. Though they were very heavy I managed to move them to one side and out-of-the-way. I don’t think they had thought about access problems when they dumped them there. I was already tired after my day at work. My second job involved repairs to bathroom lights and a switch replacement but I could only assess the work when I first went there. I needed to purchase a switch to match the faulty one but had to go to my third job beforehand. That job was some miles out-of-town and involved installing wiring to an extract wall fan. I returned to the second job to complete the work there. Now it was 3.40 in the afternoon and I was hungry and a little tired. I drove to my local pub and had a meal there but it didn’t arrive at my table until 4.20. I didn’t linger there once I had eaten but drove home for a well-earned rest, after I had moved the pews of course! My next job would take me to another town the following day. Tuesday started cool and very misty but late in the morning the sun broke out and it remained warm and sunny all day long. We are promised the same for a few more days before it gets wetter and cooler once more. I love England!

Shirley Anne

I’ve got the bug now

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Pruned bushes 2No, not coming down with something. That’s probably not possible just now as I have been pretty much isolated from my fellow human beings lately. No, I’ve got the work bug. After spending a little time out in the garden on Christmas Day (well I had to do something!) I am now itching to do some more if only to remove the boredom and of course to get some exercise. I am glad I moved the gooseberry plants. Their roots were beginning to spread after the couple of years they have been there but even so I had to cut some of them back before I could get them out of the ground. I simply replanted them a short distance away and now they will be far easier to maintain and to gather the fruit. It will be a couple on months yet before they will spring back into life. You can see the cut-down gooseberry shrubs beneath the laurels which have been moved along the same line but close to the (now removed) small slabs on the left in the picture. The laurel shrubs will now have no nearby competition to stem their growth, not that they were being held back. They have grown quite a few centimetres since they were planted early in the year. Hopefully in the next few months we shall see them beginning to have the effect for which they were planted, to provide a colourful wind-break whilst enhancing the view from the patio. If the weather holds fine I hope to finish laying and positioning the few remaining stones around and near the ‘mound’ (see summer posts). It will be a couple of weeks before I am available for electrical work so I need to make the most of the free time I have now. There is work to be done inside the house too but I fancy I shall be leaving that to one side for a while as much of it requires funding. I will however do as much as I can and am able to do without spending out on the major things which can wait.

Shirley Anne

An hour here and there

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It rained on Friday, it was cold and windy too but Saturday had been much different. Early in the morning it was misty and cold but as the morning progressed it became much warmer and there was little or no wind. The ground remained damp despite the sunshine but after a late breakfast at ten o’clock E and I decided to get out into the garden and do some work. She wore her warm wooly clothing under the rain proof jacket she keeps in the cellar for working outdoors if the weather is less than warm. She feels the cold more than I do. I was wearing my toe protective Wellington boots as I was going to be laying more heavy stone slabs and stones. Aside from my everyday clothes I was wearing a pair of overalls and of course gardening or gardeners gloves. Well I have to look after my painted nails! I set about digging out the remaining soil in order to lay the last few slabs to complete the work I had started on last week or probably the week before by the time you are reading this.

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Whilst I was doing that E was busy pruning back the gooseberry bushes that are in front of one of the greenhouses. She had pruned those which are in the vegetable plot last week. She didn’t finish doing all of them this time as she was getting a little tired and in any case she had been weeding out the flower bed too.

 

Pruned bushes 1

Pruned bushes 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was almost time for lunch by the time we had cleared everything away but we didn’t resume working after lunch. At this time of year there is no rush to do things as we are not competing with Nature as we might be doing in the growing seasons. Nevertheless weeds seem to grow all year round and are a constant reminder to keep them down as much as we can. We can spend an hour or two gardening at this time of the year almost whenever it suits us and the work soon gets done without over-taxing ourselves. The lawn is looking green and lush and it does need mowing but now is the wrong time to do it. We had thought the last time it was mowed would be the last but the weather has been so mild the grass has grown a little since. Of course it will now have to wait until the Spring, late Autumn is not the right time to cut it. We have scooped up most of the fallen leaves now though there are still some lying about, especially on parts of the lawn but they will either break down or blow away eventually. We could rake them off but it simply isn’t worth it besides there are more leaves in the space between the greenhouse and the wall which I usually remove in the Spring and which could be added to before then. Once the new slabs have settled down I will begin to fill in the spaces between them with concrete as I did with the main path we constructed during the Summer and of course we will move those gooseberry bushes that are in the vegetable plot away from the Laurels.

Shirley Anne

Hardly enough to pay………….

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……for my weekly advert this past week but thankfully sufficient. However that means little extra for profit. It is the nature of the job, swings and roundabouts and so on. Other weeks find me swamped with work. As it happens this last week has given me the opportunity to do more at home as you will already know if you are a regular visitor here. It is Wednesday evening right now and I have one small electrical job to do in the morning. Maybe there will be more this week, who knows?(update-there was!) This morning I arose very early because I wanted to finally fill in the gaps between the stone slabs of the pathway we had constructed a few weeks ago. There is still more to fill in but those gaps are the small vertical ones between the upright slabs around the path and can be done later. I needed to get the work done this day as the weather forecast was for rain within the next twenty-four hours, plenty of time for the cement to set hard beforehand. It was a quarter before 7 o’clock and I was outside with the necessary materials to start the job. I had prepared a mixture of sand, grit and cement as a mortar rather than just sand and cement as it is more hard wearing for walking upon. We have a path immediately behind the house constructed using the same mix that was laid 25 years ago and is as good as the day it was laid. Prior to filling the gaps of course I had to get on my hands and knees to scrape out the soil and other debris that had filled them over the weeks since the slabs were laid. Once I’d done that I put some small gravel chippings in the gaps and then covered them with the cement mixture but it wasn’t mixed with water, I deliberately left it dry. Once all the gaps were filled I sprayed the whole area with a fine mist of water from the hose pipe and let is wet the mixture slowly, finally increasing the spray a little to ensure it was all wet through. No need to smooth everything out as you would normally do for paving slabs. It would be impractical with natural stone because it hasn’t smooth or even straight edges. Using grit in the mixture also makes the fill turn grey making it blend in better with the natural stone. I had the area done before 9 o’clock. Whilst I was wearing my overalls I thought I’d go into the cellar room we are converting to a toilet and see how easily I could remove the floor tiles for when I level out the floor. Presently it slopes somewhat. The tiles are around 40 mm or more in depth and are square in shape with sides measuring something like 200 mm or so. They are the original fired clay tiles that were laid throughout the cellar when the house was built in 1877. They look similar to the wooden tiles shown in the picture.

English: Wooden floor tiles

Wooden floor tiles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They are laid directly onto sand. Many of them in the room are broken anyway and would have required covering over had I not intended to remove them. I want to lower the floor slightly in any case in order to make the most of the floor to ceiling space as the ceilings in the cellar are not that high though high enough at around 2.2 metres. I removed a few then left it for another day. I need to remove the old patchwork ceiling before I remove the floor tiles so that I have something solid on which to stand! Putting a new ceiling up can be done when the floor has been sorted out. It is all about planning and in which order things need to be done. It was lunchtime when I’d stopped working and after lunch I drove to the ‘Homebase‘ store to buy four plastic storage boxes for use inside the new freezers. They will make access much easier. Later in the afternoon I wasn’t feeling too good. I was feeling weak and tired and it felt as though I was coming down with a cold. I was feeling much better later though.

Shirley Anne

Tomorrows Post All mixed-up

It’s gone!

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The hole that is. Here it is before I bricked it up023. It shows the door-opening leading into the small room we will be converting into a toilet. It also shows the first of the old doors which lead directly into the garden from this side of the house. We don’t use these doors and after I’d bricked up the doorway it became impossible. We use another door which is in the boiler room to get into the garden. It is a new plastic door we had fitted a few years ago whilst we were having all the windows replaced with double-glazed units. There is another door which can be used to get into the garden, it is in the kitchen and leads out onto the stone steps which you can see in a recent post. We seldom use that door which is kept locked and bolted but it is there should we like to. Over the past week (it is now Friday as I write this) I have been concentrating on bricking up the doorway and now I have completed it, well on the half that faces into the laundry room. Maybe we should call it the freezer room now that there are four of them in there! Anyhow here is the hole that was…026Notice too that the light switch on the right hand side of the original doorway has now been removed leaving just the one switch by the entrance to control the light. Once the wall has been painted I intend to alter the power circuit in order to tidy things up and to enable us to use the two new freezers side by side against the wall facing in the second picture. The heating pipes will also be re-insulated. I collected the materials yesterday (Thursday). Speaking of Thursday, I spent an hour or so in the garden in the afternoon and dug in the last remaining stone slab at the rear of the new pathway we’d constructed but failed to get back to because of the weather and other things. More work is needed in that area such as filling in the gaps and setting in some stones along the rear wall. That wall still needs to be repaired too. At this moment I am not sure if it will be left for myself to do or if I can get someone else to do it. People have let us down on that score so far. After I had done that small job I decided to take the opportunity to get my arm down a couple of grids! There are three grids around the rear of the house and one behind the old garage but only two need to be cleaned often, one takes the waste from the laundry and the other from the kitchen. All take rain water away too. Since the other two are covered  they don’t get filled with spurious surface debris and neither do they take away greasy and soapy water from the kitchen sink! So the two I reached into were full of surface debris but the one serving the kitchen was also full of a compacted grease and detergent/soap combination which threatened to block it completely. It hasn’t been cleaned out for a couple of years as I recall. Nice smelly work but someone has to do it. I may get the drains cleaned professionally once in a while. I will make a start on the other side of the new wall over the next few days as time permits. What I have done so far can already be felt in the laundry. It is warmer than it was before.

Shirley Anne